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Judge greenlights class action lawsuit against Air Canada over fuel surcharges

Last Updated Aug 13, 2019 at 1:39 pm MST

An Air Canada flight makes its final approach as it lands in Ottawa on July 3, 2019. A Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class action lawsuit against Air Canada over fuel surcharges. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

MONTREAL — A Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class action lawsuit against Air Canada over fuel surcharges.

The lawsuit, approved yesterday, argues the country’s largest airline “illegally overcharged its customers” by more than double the cost of fuel on some flights.

The legal action claims Air Canada misrepresented the stated purpose of the surcharge, which was to partially offset the fluctuating price of jet fuel.

Michael Vathilakis, the petitioner’s lawyer, cites one example in which Air Canada allegedly charged business and economy passengers 105 per cent more than the fuel cost on a flight to Paris in January 2014.

The lawsuit says each economy passenger on that flight paid $238 in fuel surcharges alone — $163 more than they should have according to Air Canada’s contract definition of the charge. It says the airline took in $73,878 in fuel supplements on the flight, rather than the $23,164 it should have charged.

The suit states Air Canada’s contract with consumers allows it to charge them within a 33 per cent variation in the cost of fuel, based on price history and adjusted for inflation.

The class action concerns customers in Quebec who bought international tickets to destinations outside the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean between April 2012 and November 2014.

Air Canada says it disagrees with the allegations and intends to fight the lawsuit.

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The Canadian Press